For June we travel north to Hungary. Hungary is a Central European country. It’s capital and largest city is Budapest and it official language is Hungarian. It has a vast history with influences of many different groups. In the 9th century the grand prince Árpád is thought to have set the foundation of Hungary. In 1000 his grandson, Stephen I finished the job. He united the various tribes and converted the entire country to Christianity. He was married to a German princess and used Germany as a model for his own country. He was named a saint by the Catholic Church.
The current borders were established for Hungary in 1920 after World War I. After World War II, Hungary was influenced by the Soviet Union and became a communist dictatorship. In 1989 Hungary became a democratic parliamentary republic again.
Hungary is often considered divided into three sections by its two major rivers: the Danube and the Tisza. The area beyond the Danube is mostly mountainous and includes part of the Alps. The other two sections are mostly grass plains and includes the Great Hungarian Plain. Hungary has the largest natural grasslands in Europe. To the north of the Great Hungarian Plain are the foothills of the Carpathians. In this area is Kekes, the tallest mountain in Hungary. Hungary is also home to the largest thermal cave system and the second largest thermal lake in the world. As a result of the thermal water, Hungary has a passion for spas. There are approximately 450 public baths in Hungary. The Széchenyi Thermal Bath is said to be the largest spa complex in Europe and is in Hungary.
Hungary has a vast list of famous mathematicians and scientists. They include the developer of modern (non-Euclidean) geometry, the chief mathematician of the Manhattan Project and thirteen Nobel Prize winners. Almost all of them emigrated mostly due to persecution of the communist and fascist regimes. Hungary also is/was home to Ernő Rubik, the inventor of the Rubik’s Cube, László Bíro, the inventor of the modern ballpoint pen, and Albert Szent-Györgyi, who is credited with discovering vitamin C and creating the first artificial vitamin.
Hungarian culture puts a huge emphasize on hospitality and cuisine. Many of their dishes include paprika which was a Hungarian innovation. Paprika comes from a special pepper. The most famous Hungarian dish is goulash, a stew or soup. Pálinka is a fruit brandy, distilled from fruit grown in the Great Hungarian Plains. It comes in many flavors including apricot, cherry and plum. Plum is the most popular. Hungary is also known for its wine making. (Sources: Wikipedia and books pictured below) For some recipes and more information on Hungary we checked out some books from our local library.
We also looked at some non-fiction books to learn more about Hungary. Maggie: A Sheep Dog is about a Kuvasz, which is a type of dog from Hungary. The Boy Who Loved Math is about Paul Erdos, a famous mathematician. The Great Houdini is about Harry Houdini who was born in Budapest as Ehrich Weiss. Soccer is a popular sport in Hungary. They have won three Olympic Titles in it, came in second in two World Cups. Speaking of sports, Hungary is third highest number of Olympic medals per capita and second highest per capita of Olympic gold medals in the world. (Source)
Hungary has so much history that there is also a lot of great reading for older children. Here are some I found at my local libary.
There is also the Holocaust stories from Hungary. Here are some I found at my local library. Raoul Wallenberg was a Swedish man who rescued tens of thousands Jewish Hungarians during the Holocaust. There are several books about him available.
Now that we have explored a little bit about Hungary, we are going to share our own experiences with the cuisine of Hungary. We also have the wonderful Hungary placemat and passport pages (and of course our passport cover) coming soon to download for free to help teach your children about Hungary. Also please visit the various blogs who link their posts with crafts, recipes and more about Hungary and feel free to link any you have.
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